The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Hideous Church Architecture

(Don't say I didn't warn you!)

Got something worse? Post the url in a comment.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004
From a review of C.S. Lewis' Collected Letters in Books & Culture:

There is never a pro forma response. Lewis' pen is like a magical stream which can run now fresh, now salt, now cream, now wine. His complete mastery of voice is an object lesson in the art of becoming "all things to all men."

Ah, to write like that!

(Or, why we need to give our kids a classical education.)

Monday, September 27, 2004
Some Recent Church Interiors I Like


Cemetery Chapel. I love the simplicy, attention to detail and proportion.


Chapel in Seaside. Somewhat cartoonish (esp. the exterior). Maybe too stiff/cold. Again I like the simplicy, the clean lines and the sense of rhythm.


St. James, Fairhope, AL. Nice updating of traditional form and Carpenter Gothic details.


Thorncrown Chapel, AR. A stunning space. Not very practical.

Thursday, September 23, 2004
"Culture Trumps Politics"
so says Andrew Sandlin.

Or is it just a case of my centrism is better than your centrism?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Informed but Not Biased
From an interview with poet and director Dana Gioia of NEA:

Q: How does your personal faith influence your work for the NEA?

A: One’s spiritual life nourishes and informs every aspect of one’s social and private life. I do not run the National Endowment for the Arts with any religious bias. But I do deeply believe in the spiritual power of art.

Church Building
Our home church, Trinity OPC, is starting the process of building (or expanding) a new sanctuary space for our congregation. New seating capacity will be approx. 250.

Our trustees are wrestling with cost, possibilities with the land we own, zoning restrictions, etc.

I am really hoping that we can make a new facility that is truly aesthetic. But I realize that we need to be careful with the limited funds that we have. The two consultants/architects that the trustee have interviewed so far do really mediocre work (at best). It would seem that they could still be "basic" and yet get the details and massing and proportions right so that result is generally pleasant. But this does not seem to be the case.

Do any of you out there no any experienced artchitects who have designed church buildings that you like?

Or do you have examples (urls) of church buildings that you like?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004
How I'm Keeping Busy

Toiling feaverishly, before the rainy season starts. (Last week it was very rainy, which, believe it or not, is unusual this time of year in Oregon!)

Thursday, September 16, 2004
Bashing Walmart
PCA gets into the act.

So does Gary North.

Also check out the engaging allwayslowprices blog put together by some economists.

I wonder what Mike Horton and Norman Shepherd think.

(Is it just me, or does the new PCA online rag By-Faith have a decided left-ish edge?)

Monday, September 13, 2004
through some classic 16th century books by the likes of Dürer, Holbein and Palladio.

Or you can leaf through later books on Botany, Zoology or Newton's Optics.

Cool. And Free. (High res. versions are for sale.)

Friday, September 10, 2004

"no part of a dollar spent for beauty is ever wasted."

--Edgar Kaufmann, the Pittsburgh department store owner who commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Solomon the Culture-Maker
is a theme I explore briefly in Plowing. He is simultaneously a type of Christ - master-builder of the New Creation/Culture (it is no accident that he was a carpenter before he entered his "ministry"), and the prototypical redeemed man fulfilling - finally - his calling to tranform the earth. Peter Leithart recently explored this theme as well in a recent post. Here is a taste:

"I think this is best explained by seeing that Solomon, as son of David and son of Yahweh, is a creator-builder like his Heavenly Father. In 1 Kings 3:4ff, Solomon receives divine wisdom, the same wisdom that, by Solomon's own account, was a master-craftsman beside Yahweh as He created the world. Solomon is clearly organizing, dividing and distinguishing, shaping and filling Israel and then the temple."

Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Making Flippy Floppy
In South Africa, a conceptual artist got his way and was given permission for his cutting edge installation. Here is the result:

He merely took a gallery of Dutch old master paintings and turned them around, so that the picture faced the wall. The sort of effacing gesture (and gesture is all it it is) has been tried before: notably Robert Rauschenberg's "Erased DeKooning Drawing". For many it will induce a wry smirk, for others laughter. The stuff of the evening news when they need something light hearted to soften the violence and gloom.

But I must say that as an art historian this is a wonderful opportunity. The backs of paintings are full of information: provenance records, notes, descriptive information, etc. And it gives us an opportunity to see the craft that goes into preparing panels and canvases for painting. I wish I could be there to view it.

Friday, September 03, 2004
Needs and Work
I also just saw this article on work from ByFaithOnline. According to the article, work is for meeting basic human needs:

It was Martin Luther who most emphatically pointed out that work was instituted by God to make sure mankind’s needs are met. It is by our work in the secular world, Luther said, that the hungry are fed, the naked clothed, the sick healed, the ignorant enlightened, and the weak protected. It is through our work, he believed, that God’s people participated in his ongoing care for the human race.

Again, I have to say that this doesn't go far enough. Work is more than meeting basic needs. It is our calling to transform and develop the earth (Gen 2:15). Work is our calling to be faithful stewards in the broadest and most global sense.

Becoming a Truly Wholistic Church
The PCA online magazine ByFaithOnline recently posted an article "Becoming a Church that Changes the World" which argues for the importance of reaching out into the community in ways that go beyond "mere" evangelism. The article approvingly sites Ron Siders book Churches That Make a Difference: Reaching Your Community with Good News and Good Works :

Part 2 [of the book] builds on this foundation by examining the essential components of a holistic congregation. Our research suggests that these elements include: 1) an ability to balance the nurture of members with outreach; 2) a knowledge of and love for the community surrounding the church; 3) a clearly communicated theology and vision for holistic mission; 4) an integration of a holistic vision into the internal life of the church; 5) a base of healthy, loving relationships; and 6) the leadership calling and equipping the members of the congregation to action.

The problem with the article (and Sider's book) is that it doesn't go far enough. Its vision of "good works" is too truncated.

"Good works" must include culture-making as well. That was our original calling to "work" in our pre-redemptive, pre-fallen state.

Culture is the missing ingredient toward making churches truly wholistic and balanced.